There is no shortage of leadership profiling tools available. From the DiSC Profile to Myers & Briggs to John Maxwell’s Leadership Assessment, it is tempting to over-analyze your leadership style and areas of opportunity. As a business leader, you likely also spend time studying the great business leaders of our time—Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff, Mary Barra, Warren Buffett—in an effort to emulate the qualities that made them great. As you dive deeper into effective leadership, you’ll also learn that the most successful leaders share common denominators, and one of those attributes is the presence of emotional intelligence (EQ).
Emotional intelligence is a learned capacity to identify emotions, the relationship between emotions and reality and to solve problems based on synthesizing this information. Measuring leadership effectiveness within the framework of EQ is a paradigm shift away from previous leadership success indicators such as IQ, revenue growth and even Net Promoter Scores (NPS).
The core principles of EQ (coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book titled Emotional Intelligence) don’t stop at leadership. They are fundamental business principles, and when applied within key organizational departments such as sales and marketing, can have an exponential impact on success.
There are four domains of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Here are ways to apply the specifics of these domains beyond leadership and integrate them into the marketing efforts within your organization.
Self-awareness and self-management
Emotional self-awareness is the ability to understand your feelings and how they might affect your colleagues, prospects, environment and overall job performance. It’s the ability to choose the thoughts and emotions that lie between any stimulus during your day and your response to that, as the time between those two events is where your leadership power lies.
As a marketing leader, this means being aware of your biases, your blind spots and your frame of reference. Have you ever rallied your team around a campaign idea that ultimately fell flat? Having the self-awareness to recognize the shortcomings of your idea and the self-management to make a data-informed decision to pull an ad campaign, pause content creation efforts or stop a discounted offer despite your personal attachment to the idea is this practice in action.
How do you do this effectively and consistently? Choose members of a personal advisory board or trusted peers who are willing to be honest with you about your missteps and shortcomings as a leader. Practice regular introspective practices such as meditation, like so many of today’s great leaders do. Be willing to be data-informed rather than just data-driven. As a marketing leader who is steering the ship, synthesizing the data related to your decisions combined with insights and experience as a way to be more self-awareness and therefore self-managed.
Being socially aware encompasses empathy, and empathy is cultivated through creating an environment of brand authenticity.
Consumers, especially millennials, are forcing brands to be more socially aware, authentic and transparent, which is good for the entire business ecosystem. You’ll find examples of social responsibility and authenticity among your favorite brands like Dove, Patagonia and Warby Parker. One of my all-time favorite examples of a socially aware, authentic brand campaign was P&G’s #WeSeeEqual effort that broke down gender bias and stereotypes by putting unexpected characters in emotional, intimate moments of life with captions like “households don’t care who lead them” and “fears don’t care who conquer them.” While the social awareness component is evident, the authenticity stems from P&G’s own organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Social awareness is critical for marketing success. By using empathy to understanding buyer pain points along the path to purcase, the marketing team can address them in relevant ways through website copy, social messages, ads, email promotions and storytelling. Take a moment to leverage social awareness by understanding what your target audience experiences before they purchase, and then test how your company can connect their brand story to those needs in a highly personalized, relatable way. Buyers connect more with stories than features and benefits. Tell yours in an authentic way that motivates action.
Relationship management is about cultivating effective influence over others to help facilitate their decision-making process. Relationship management is essential for the marketing team to keep top-of-mind as they execute lead nurture strategies to move leads along the buyer’s journey. For B2B marketing efforts, this might look like creating an account based marketing strategy that includes highly relevant touchpoints, including targeted ads, emails and possibly even direct mail to meet the buying needs of a wide variety of stakeholders within one company, from the C-level decision makers to the implementers of the product or service being sold. Excellent relationship management is a competency rooted in effective communication skills and builds upon the other EQ domains.
Ultimately, the personality of a leader becomes the personality of the company; the trickle-down effect is inevitable. As you embody the domains of emotional intelligence, you’ll inspire others to emulate these powerful principles and build a company on this solid leadership framework.